I am afraid that now that I have discovered the books published by Persephone Books that I am completely addicted. Here is another great classic from their catalogue.
When we meet Patience, the eponymous character of the novel, she is having a very serious discussion with her brother who is a devout Catholic. The discussion between brother and sister that opens the book is amusing and sets the stage for what is a delightful exploration of love, faith and relationships. Patience is not upset when her brother reveals to her that her husband Edward is cheating on her; she does not yell or get upset or even shed a tear. She is, however, surprised that anyone would go to bed with Edward willingly. This statement is very telling of Patience and Edwards’ marital relations and her lack of satisfaction.
Patience is first and foremost a mother and she adores her three blond haired daughters; she endearingly calls them her “babies.” After doing some research in order to find out about Edward’s mistress, Patience also discovers that Edward’s first wife is not deceased. A few hilarious discussions ensue as to the legitimacy of her three children. Since Edward is technically still married to his first wife, and never legally married Patience, then aren’t her three children, she concludes, all bastards?
This story is really one of an awakening: spiritual, sexual and emotional. It is not so much Edwards’ cheating that prompts Patience to reexamine her life, as her unexpected relationship with a man named Philip. Patience meets Philip one night when she goes out dancing with her sister. Philip is immediately attracted to Patience and he tells her so. Patience is flattered and overwhelmed that a man could be so loving and attentive. It is surprising that Patience sleeps with Philip immediately, but by doing so she realizes what a farce her marriage to Edward has been.
When Patience decides that she must leave Edward and live a happy life of peace and fulfillment Edward, in turn, decides that he will not let her go very easily. Patience uses all of her guile and newly found sensuality to force Edward to let her and the children go. Patience’s transformation into a confident, loving and sexual woman is funny, poignant and makes for a fantastic story. Once again, Persephone Press has reissued another great classic which I highly recommend.
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